Here's part 2 of my latest round-up of mini-reviews. For part 1, please click here.
Un Air De Bretagne from L’Artisan Parfumeur (Juliette Karagueuzoglou; 2017)*
I remain a huge fan of the brand, but sadly, this isn’t one of their finer moments. Like most scents trying to play the marine card, it fails. Yes, the citruses and the cedary woods attempt to make the calone aquatics appear more realistic, but they can’t quite conceal that this is a coast whose soul was concocted in a test tube rather than captured along a cliff edge. I’ll stick with my crepe and Calvados.
Synthetic Series: Tar from Comme Des Garçons (Nathalie Feisthauer; 2004)**
A perfume peeled off a steaming motorway, wafting petrol fumes and the gorgeous glue of brand new Nikes. Superb work by Nathalie Feisthauer.
Paithani from Penhaligon’s (Alex Lee; 2017)*
Putting aside its somewhat heavy-handed, synth-wood base, it’s an Indian feast, complete with cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and a generous dose of sugary condensed milk.
Eau Parfumée Au Thé Blanc from Bulgari (2003; Jacques Cavallier)**
A truly convincing tea note (for once!) infused with orange blossom and musk. It always makes me think of a breeze blowing through an open window in a tiny, white-walled Spanish villa.
Habanita edt from Molinard (1921)**
I’ve never had any interest in smoking, but the sultry tobacco-vanilla-vetivert of Habanita has often made me wonder if I’m missing out on some sort of illicit glamour. Sweet and bitter in equal measure, this 1920s classic always takes my breath away... without inducing any nicotine choking.
Dent De Lait from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2017)*
I remain intrigued by this one. Continuing the brand’s recent fascination with juvenilia, it presents the last thing we would have expected from them a few years ago: a baby shampoo accord, a la Johnson’s. In other words, it’s soapy and faintly floral. But it doesn’t quite allow you to leave it there, because a chilled incense note appears (think: the brand’s own Eau series) as well as an unmistakable whiff of milky notes. Unashamedly synthetic. Resolutely child-like. Almost petulantly fan-displeasing. Some will say it furthers the Lutens decline. Others will call it bold. As for me... well, I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t say that I’ve reached for its crispness more than once on these chilly mornings. The Serge enigma lives to see another day.
Bois Dahman from Hervé Gambs (2015)*
One of the brand’s best offerings, a sophisticated meeting of Coco with Dune, full of chocolatey greens, florals and incense. Displays a cool sweetness, like jazz that permits itself to be romantic.
Cœur Couronné from Hervé Gambs (2013)*
Well made, if somewhat mono-dimensional, gourmand sweetener. Travels from boozy florals to gummy myrrh. A chocolate plum encased in leather.
Hotel Riviera from Hervé Gambs (2015)*
Successful nouveau cologne, linking the familiar citrus structure with lung-expanding mint and violet leaf. As expected, musks are used to increase longevity.
Coup De Grace from Hervé Gambs (2013)*
Powerful patchouli-rose with green accents and a pronounced amber base. Works very well, but doesn’t add anything new to the genre.
Domaine Du Cap from Hervé Gambs (2015)*
Strawberry soda fizz bubbling across the Med, lifted by a breeze of basil and thyme. Full of sweet/tart contrasts. Very ‘1920s swimming caps and one-piece costumes’.
Pink Evidence from Hervé Gambs (2017)*
Retro violets, a firm woody base, creamy iris and whisper of white petals create a 1950s Coca Cola charm, complete with vintage floral dress and a postmodern wink.
Ombre Sauvage from Hervé Gambs (2015)*
Smoke-filled leather and flinty incense over vanilla base. Light-catching silver dipped in ochre. Rather angelic, as opposed to shadowy or savage, but still, a striking piece of work.
Hotel Particulier from Hervé Gambs (2013)*
A rich cake mix of cocoa, cognac, rum and vanilla scooped straight out of the bowl by greedy fingers and then licked off with relish. I’d love to know what else happens at this hotel!
Jardin Privé from Hervé Gambs (2013)*
The steamed earthiness of green tea connected with spring-like bergamot. Lilac and herbs somewhere in the background. An April stroll through Warsaw’s Łazienki Park, but not substantial enough to be memorable.
Infusion Noir from Hervé Gambs (2015)*
Rare example of ‘noir’ being right. Pepper, sage, coffee, aniseed and mainly lavender come together in a modern fougere that’s as much about kinky rubber suits as urbane charm. Great to wear.
* sample provided by the brand
** sample obtained by the author